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‘Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman’ #1 shines a mostly bright light on Amazon warrior

Comic Books

‘Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Wonder Woman’ #1 shines a mostly bright light on Amazon warrior

The story mostly works as a gripping portrait of Diana.

I’ve mentioned a few times already that the Worlds Without A Justice League stories are quite brilliant. Whereas Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths has felt mostly uneven (although it could totally stick the landing to become a genuinely great modern DC event), these tie-in titles — with stories thus far about Superman and Green Lantern — feel like they deliver in the event’s larger promise and then some. Which is to say, showing the power of legacy and loss and exploring what it all really means.

And that continues as we gather round for a tale of Wonder Woman, from the creative team of writer Tini Howard, artist Leila Del Duca, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Troy Peteri.

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Much like her Justice League cohorts, Diana spends her time in death/mental prison/etc. seeing a version of the world that she either wants or needs the most. In this case, it’s an idealized version of our own, one where women are clearly in charge — Etta Candy is elected president in a brilliant scene — and even Cheetah is at peace with the Amazons. But not is all as it seems, and after a tumble into the Well of Souls, Diana is set on a course to discover her true place in the world of man.

As far as narrative structures go, it felt like the best way to delve into Diana’s character and explore her deeply-held values of justice and that unwavering desire for true peace. We get a chance to see just what happens to Diana when her best ideas and intentions are seemingly realized and what it all means when that perfect world comes through machinations she might not find so savory. I’m hopefully not spoiling too much, but it’s a great little bait-and-switch that hits Diana in her true emotional home.

DC Preview: Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman #1

Courtesy of DC Comics.

The twist, as it were, is done to really play up the overt sense of morality at the character’s core, and it resonates a little more deliberate and focused than some other stories in this series thus far. (The Green Lantern story, for instance, didn’t so much “challenge” the character as just demonstrate what makes John Stewart a great hero and leader.) And by that, I mean that this whole device feels like it’s suited for Wonder Woman at large, and the build and turn involved here has a sense of drama and huge stakes that really work with a lot of genuinely great Diana-starring tales. Again, I’m thinking of something like the excellent Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, and what giant odds do for exploring and defining Diana as a purer hero.

As an extension of that last idea, it’s here that I want to stop for a second and mention the backup story, a gritty noir about Martian Manhunter from the creative team of writer Dan Watters, artist Brandon Peterson, colorist Michael Atiyeh, and letterer Troy Peteri. On paper, that story works because the whole gritty time drama vibes fit with MM, and the story itself also builds up a perfect world for him before knocking it all down Jenga-style. However, the issue is that it doesn’t have the same level of stakes as the Diana story, and thus doesn’t land as well.

DC Preview: Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman #1

Courtesy of DC Comics.

That’s likely because there’s a sense to the Diana story that she’s really losing something significant, and in that process she can discover something more elemental to herself and her ideas about the world. And that kind of life lesson structure is where Diana isn’t just compelling but a powerful storytelling device to let us all look inward a bit. We can relate to her in most stories, and this one especially feels made to place us forcibly into her golden boots and make us understand the massive emotional journey she’s undertaken.

However, as much as the story works, I just wasn’t as much in love with the art. That’s not to say it’s bad, or even that it’s only serviceable. If anything, it works to an extent. The design of Diana’s armor, for instance, really pops, and it feels both classic and new enough to demonstrate that we’re in a different place alongside Wonder Woman. And those early shots of Diana coming into Etta’s inauguration are particularly grandiose in their scope. Even the look of Themyscira feels truly novel. But I think once the action got going a bit more, and the big emotional arc hit its stride, things felt muted a bit.

‘Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman’ #1 shines a mostly bright light on Amazon warrior

Courtesy of DC Comics.

The stuff in which they revealed the big story’s larger core — again, no spoilers, but Dr. Psycho is involved, and there’s perhaps false memories and spaceships to boot — just doesn’t have the heft needed visually, and the art falls slightly short of impact of the messages and themes being explored here. It’s still a poignant tale, but I think I wanted more elements of drama to go along with what felt like were huge moments in the life of Diana and how she does what she does and the very reasons for her heroism. Although I will add that the visuals did up the ante a bit at the very end, and the final page lands with the emotional authority it ought to have achieved the entire story.

I think if it weren’t for tie-in stories like this, I might not enjoy Dark Crisis as much as I have thus far. This one especially stripped a lot of the canon and story shenanigans for something a bit more pure. Maybe it wasn’t as effective as it could have been, but it felt like the sort of moment that made very clear what big events like this are actually meant to do: let us see our heroes again for the very first time.

‘Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman’ #1 shines a mostly bright light on Amazon warrior
‘Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Wonder Woman’ #1 shines a mostly bright light on Amazon warrior
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League - Wonder Woman #1
Another tie-in where we get to delve into the splendid heart of a big-time DC hero, with mostly compelling results.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Wonder Woman is seemingly made for this sort of lighting-quick character study.
The art doesn't always pop, but the bones are pretty good and build a solid enough world around our hero.
Howard's characterization of Diana is a powerful and relatable version of the Amazon warrior.
The back-up story mostly works but is also mostly just there.
It's a solid story that still doesn't have the emotional heft and weight it perhaps could've achieved.
7
Good
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